Master & Dynamic MW75 review: Premium alternative
(Pocket-lint) – Master & Dynamic may not be one of the juggernauts of the headphones market, but it does specialise in producing attractive and premium products. And for 2022, the New York company has delivered the MW75 – a bigger and bolder sibling to the MW65 released three years ago.
They’re not necessarily a direct rival to ANC headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QC45 or Apple AirPods Max, but, on paper, they do represent an interesting alternative for those who want something on the boutique end of the spectrum.
Offering a pair of headphones with high-end materials is one thing, though, and having them perform at a high level is another.
Does Master & Dynamic do enough to justify the price tag here, or is this one pair of premium headphones that’s all style and no substance? We’ve been testing the MW75 to find out.
The MW75 might not be the absolute perfect pair of headphones when it comes to portability, but you’re unlikely to find another option with the same combination of premium materials and exciting, bold sound. Simply, they’re the best headphones we’ve seen yet from Master & Dynamic.
We’d love to see an update with more reliable on-head detection for auto-pausing, and for M&D to add auto-playback, too. However, there’s more right here than wrong with this package. For music lovers craving a premium and comfortable listening experience, these are right up there with our favourite pairs of wireless headphones.
You will pay over the odds for the more premium design, as ever, so just keep in mind that you can be served elsewhere – particularly if you value features.
Master & Dynamic MW75
4.5 stars – Pocket-lint recommended
- Stunning design and materials
- Very comfortable cushioning
- Sound is superb
- Effective noise cancelling
- Solid battery life
- On-head detection doesn’t auto-resume music
- Basic app
- Very pricey
- Lambskin headband/cushions
- Anodised aluminium arms
- Tempered glass and aluminium ear cups
It’s difficult to fault Master & Dynamic’s choice of materials with the MW75. The headphones come with a lambskin leather-coated headband and ear cushions, with polished aluminium arms that adjust smoothly inside the headband. The earcups, meanwhile, are constructed from anodised aluminium and tempered glass.
It’s an exercise in high-quality craftsmanship. There are no unnecessary gaps or seams, with every hole around each earcup purposefully micro-machined in a pattern and the round buttons being perfectly solid and clicky.
Even the stems that hold the ear cups in place are really well put together. The smooth movement when rotating the cups or sliding the arms to adjust is heavenly. And that’s without mentioning the generous, soft and comfy memory foam padding inside the headband and ear cushions.
All this ensures that, despite being a relatively heavy pair of headphones (338g), they’re really comfortable to wear for long periods and sit nicely on the head. They don’t feel like they’re weighing you down or pressing down on the top of your scalp, which can, unfortunately, be a feature of many alternatives.
The only negative thing we did notice during testing was that the bottom edge of the cushion did sometimes press against our earrings (which are admittedly pretty chunky), and so that could potentially cause some discomfort – depending on your style. However, we never had any issues when combining them with glasses, which is rare for a pair of over-ears or on-ears.
If there’s any general criticism we have about the design of the MW75, it’s that they aren’t exactly primed for portability and travel. Unlike the smaller MW65, which came with a soft fabric and leather pouch, this pair comes with quite a bulbous hard case covered in felt. It takes up a lot of space and is completely inflexible. It’s also noticeably larger than the case that comes with either the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 or the latest Sony WH-1000X series headphones.
There’s almost a sense, then, that you might just be best wearing them around your neck and not taking the case with you if you’re travelling – unless you have lots of space in your bag or suitcase, of course.
There’s also the fact that they don’t fold up. Being premium headphones, that’s not exactly surprising. You can rotate the ear cups flat to stow them away, but you can’t fold them any smaller. If that’s what you’re after, you’re best off looking at the Bose QC45 or the Sennheiser PXC-550ii.
Features, connectivity and battery life
- On-head detection/auto-pause
- Bluetooth 5.1 – 30m/100ft range
- Up to 32 hours playback (28 with ANC)
- USB-C charging
Where things have improved over the MW65 are in the connectivity and features department. You get modern novelties like auto-pausing when you remove the headphones from your head, as well as aptX Adaptive and dynamic noise cancelling (which we’ll get into below). There’s now even a companion app available to let you tinker with settings.
For on-head or on-ear detection, M&D put an optical sensor inside one of the cups. It works well when you purposefully take the headphones off – or remove a cup from your ear – but the experience wasn’t perfect.
We sometimes found it would activate of its own accord with just a slight shift of the headphones. This wasn’t often enough that it became a nuisance, but it did happen a few times. The other downside is that this technology hasn’t been utilised to start playing the music again once you put the headphones back on. You have to physically press the play button on the cup or on your device to do that, which is an odd omission.
The Bluetooth range is strong, though, as promised. We could comfortably walk around most of our house and even outside in the garden, leaving our device 15-25 metres away, and still experience a solid connection.
Battery life was similarly reliable. With ANC turned off, the company claims up to 32 hours of music playback – or 28 hours with the ANC enabled. We never switched the ANC off and found we still have a good 15 per cent battery left even after 25 hours of music. In short, it’s more than enough to get you through a week’s worth of commutes.
We would like to see quicker charging, however, given that it takes around 100 minutes to refill from empty.
As apps go, Master & Dynamic’s is quite simple in execution. Unlike Sony’s approach, you don’t get lots of fancy features to tweak and activate. You can view your battery level and play around with noise-cancelling, ambient mode and EQ settings, but that’s about it.
The MW75 also miss out on LDAC support for Hi-Res, as well as Dolby Atmos/Spatial Audio, which some may be expecting in a pair of headphones with this price tag.
All told, then, the MW75 is still a relatively basic product from a features perspective – even if things have improved. This is relatively easy to forgive, given that it’s not the priority of these headphones, but it’s still something to be aware of.
Sound quality and noise cancelling
- 40mm Beryllium drivers
- Qualcomm aptX Adaptive – 24-bit/48kHz wirelessly
- USB-C to USB-C for 24-bit/96kHz
If what you value most in a pair of headphones is having energetic and full sound, then you really can’t go wrong with the MW75. This is what Master & Dynamic does. The clue really is in the name: it’s dynamic. And it’s one of the things we’ve always appreciated about the M&D range of products – regardless of the style.
You get lots of bass, but, at the same time, plenty of treble, detail and clarity in the higher frequencies, too. There’s an exciting blend of mids, lows and highs, but the details never suffer regardless of the frequency.
Bass might be prominent, then, but it retains its texture and shape without getting overblown and boomy. Likewise, it’s one of those pairs of headphones that elevates some of the quieter, more subtle elements in the background. It’s this combination of qualities that make it a pair that’s ideal for all manner of genres – and may just lead you to fall in love with your favourite songs again.
Want to slap on some Limp Bizkit and enjoy the impact of the drums, heavy bass riffs and crunchy guitar? Want to enjoy the many layers of percussive instruments, synth loops and swelling orchestral strings in Gang of Youths’ Angel in Realtime? The MW75 can adapt.
Even when you want to enjoy the full resonance and reverb of acoustic guitar and bass in a more simple, stripped-down song – like John Smith’s Far Too Good – it’s great for that, as well. The higher notes being strummed and plucked ring through, while the bass work fills up the background.
That’s before the strings and some light percussion come in during the coda/bridge towards the end. You get a light smattering of a shaker and violin, and you can pick it all out, and yet it all retains that sense of balance you get from a good pair of headphones.
We can’t think of any better pair for the pure enjoyment of music. There’s so much character and detail.
Of course, if you want, you can tweak the EQ using one of three presets in the app. And it’s here you can distinguish the quality of the 40mm drivers being used – they’re still all very good despite quite drastically changing the balance of frequencies.
You don’t lose any detail or hear any flaws when you select the ‘Bass Boost’ setting – you just get more bass. Likewise, with the vocal and treble focus, you get a different balance, but the bass is still clear and detailed, while the impact notes and sounds just become clearer and without any sibilance.
From a signal quality perspective, the MW75 has everything you’d likely want from a pair of cans to use with your smartphone. With support for aptX Adaptive, you get 24-bit/48kHz resolution audio wirelessly. This technology also means low lag, so it’s perfectly suited for watching videos, too. If you want to switch to using USB-C to USB-C, you can get even higher quality 24-bit/96kHz resolution audio using a cable.
Noise cancelling is strong, as well, with three different modes available: Max, All-Day and Adaptive. The first is self-explanatory and provides the highest level of noise-cancelling, which is useful for cutting out loud droning noises like an aeroplane or train engine.
All-Day is more for quieter environments, like offices or your home, while Adaptive changes the level based on the noise around you. It uses the microphones around the ear cups to hear the level and kind of noise, then adjust the noise cancelling based on that.
For the most part, it’s effective. It does well against those low, constant droning noises. With the right music volume (above halfway) it’ll do a good job killing people talking, too. It can comfortably cut out the sound of traffic on a busy road and even cope well with wind, killing that tearing sound you sometimes get with ANC headphones.
The MW75 headphones are the company’s finest to date. They might not be the absolute perfect pair when it comes to noise-cancelling or portability, but you’re unlikely to find another option with the same combination of premium materials and exciting, dynamic sound.
Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Conor Allison.